Achievement motivation and competition: perceptions and responses

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SCANLAN, TARA K. and JOHN T. RAGAN, JR. Achievement motivation and competition: perceptions and responses. Med. Sci. Sports. Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 276-281, 1978.—This study investigated the influence of achievement motivation (Nach) on how individuals perceive an evaluative competition situation, whether they prefer to perform in this type of setting, and whether they seek the inherent appraisal information regarding their motoric competence. Specifically, perceived threat to self esteem was examined as indicated by state anxiety responses and measured by the Competitive Short Form of the Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory. State anxiety was assessed at rest, while performing a motor task alone in a nonevaluative setting, and during competition against an equal ability opponent. Situation preference and information seeking behavior were assessed at the conclusion of the closely paced competition. Subjects were asked whether they had preferred performing in the noncompetition or competition situation and were given the opportunity to select the relative ability level of a future opponent. As predicted, the major findings indicated that high Nach males experienced less threat during competition than low Nach males. Further, more high than low Nach individuals preferred the competition situation to the noncompetition situation and sought the evaluative ability information to a greater extent by choosing opponents of equal or greater relative ability for a future hypothetical competition.

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